Finance

Blockchain is tracking your vomit – and that’s a good thing

By Kitty Knowles 23 November 2016
Summary

The world of cryptocurrency has taken a smart but sickly turn.

Most times one reads about vomit, it doesn’t spell great news; you’re likely self-diagnosing your dodgy tummy, or catching up on the latest outbreak to grip your community.

Today though, talking puke marks progress, as Walmart blends the worlds of bitcoin and barf.

Bigger than bitcoin

Now you may already know about blockchain – the groundbreaking platform upon which super-secure, trackable, digital currency bitcoin is built.

Read more: The Blockchain explained (with cake)

But what you might not have realised is that recently there’s been a push to use blockchain for more than money. IBM – for example – has been working to apply the system to food logistics.

The idea is that food products could be tracked as they move from farms and factories to store shelves. Smart tags and sensors that track stats like an item’s location and temperature would then be recorded in a blockchain ledger throughout its journey.

Sick tracking

Now Walmart is testing this out, in the hopes that if you pick up a bug, it will be able to more quickly track and recall tainted products.

What’s more, if anything goes wrong en route – say a meat shipment spoils during delivery – the affected batches can be quickly identified, found and pulled before they hit shelves.

The retail giant has partnered with IBM and Tsinghua University in Beijing for the development, and is already tracking pork in China, and packaged produce in the US with blockchain.

“It gives them an ability to have an accounting from origin to completion,” Marshal Cohen, an NPD Group analyst, told Bloomberg. “If there’s an issue with an outbreak of E. coli, this gives them an ability to immediately find where it came from. That’s the difference between days and minutes.”

A vomit-free future?

Now a month in, Walmart appears to be happy with the trial.

“So far things are flowing smoothly and as expected,” Frank Yiannas, a VP of Food Safety at Walmart, told Bloomberg.

That not only means that Walmart’s 260m weekly customers can look forward to a healthier, happier future, but other food giants could catch on too.

Let’s hope other companies do follow suit, to keep us all ‘flowing smoothly’ in years to come.

Read more from The Memo about the future of finance….